Bird flu spreads to Southern California, infecting chickens, wild birds and other animals, officials warn
A photo taken on Monday, Oct. 25, at the Santa Monica Bird Sanctuary shows the bird flu virus that was found on a dead cockatiel in the Los Angeles area.
The California Department of Health Services reported Monday that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed the presence of the new animal borne poultry flu virus in southern California.
The state has not yet determined where the virus originated, although it has been confirmed on birds from three of the state’s largest bird parks: the Los Angeles Zoo, Huntington Park Zoo and the Santa Monica Bird Sanctuary.
The bird flu strain was found in Los Angeles on the day that a visitor died from a virus similar in illness to the bird flu in the area.
The CDC said the virus can replicate in birds, and infected birds can spread the disease to other birds and other animals. In addition, human to human transmission of the virus has been documented in some locations, the CDC said.
In California, the bird flu is not known to have been transmitted from person to person, but there are a number of unanswered questions about why the virus was recently found in Los Angeles. A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said a human case of bird flu has already been confirmed in Los Angeles County, and that the virus appeared on a dead cockatiel.
“There has not been any human transmission of this virus,” said Ed Morgan, public information officer for the California Department of Health Services. “It’s still very early in the investigation; there are still many unknowns. This is certainly an emerging infectious disease and as more information is available, we will have more information to share.”
Morgan said the first case of bird flu was confirmed in Los Angeles in early October, when a person visiting the Los Angeles Zoo was hospitalized with the virus. At the time, Morgan said it was believed that the virus was circulating in the area but not being transmitted from person to person.
A second human case was confirmed in the second week of October when a person attending a conference in Palm Springs was hospitalized with the virus. A third case was confirmed in the first week of November in a person who attended a conference in Riverside County.